ISLAMABAD, Dec 09 (APP): Parliamentary Secretary for National Health Services Nausheen Hamid Monday told the National Assembly that the present government increased retail prices of medicines by nine percent as determined under hardship category and by 15 percent over and above the existing maximum retail prices under Drug Pricing Policy, 2018.
Speaking during the question hour, she said the federal government had approved the list of medicines whose prices had been increased under hardship category.
The reasons for increase in prices of drugs were 28 percent devaluation of Pakistani rupee in 2018, rise in prices of raw materials and packaging materials of drugs in China due to closure of plants on account of environmental reasons, she added.
She said these reasons affected the availability of medicines and vaccines in the country.
Therefore, the federal government and Drug Regulatory Authority of Pakistan (DRAP) allowed increase in prices of drugs to ensure availability of life saving medicines in the market, she added.
She said since July 01, 2016 annual increase in maximum retail prices of drugs had been linked with consumer price Index under drug pricing policy which was notified after approval of federal government.
In July 2019, pharmaceutical companies availed increase in prices by 7.34 percent for the financial year on basis of CPI. Prices of essential drugs rose by 5.13 percent and 7.34 percent.
Nousheen said the cabinet approved the Drug Pricing Policy which determined the prices of medicines.
The pharmaceutical companies went to Supreme Court against the government decision to set prices, she added.
She said the government was taking the issue of polio seriously and the ministry had nominated a strategic advisory board to deal with the disease.
March and April were important months to identify dengue larva and an action plan was prepared to deal with the epidemic, she added.
She said health was provincial subject as it had been devolved to the provinces.
She said there was shortage of doctors and paramedic staff in Poly Clinic Hospital, Islamabad whoever the government had set in motion plans to include more staff.
She said the project of extension of Poly Clinic hospital had not been dropped.
Capital Development Authority (CDA) was in the process of allotment of 12 acre of land in sector D-12. The government had already allocated Rs. 47.896 million for the feasibility study of Federal Government Poly Clinic extension.
She said the emergency of the Poly Clinic was upgraded and extended and latest facilities were being provided in it.
The Secretary said population growth was the biggest problem of the country.
In 2017, Pakistan was the 6th most populous country in the world.
According to Housing and Population Census Report 2017, Pakistan’s population was 208.7 million with population growth rate of 2.4 percent per annum, she added.
She said Federal Task Force on Population was notified and its meeting was scheduled to be held on December 11 depending on the availability of chief minister.
She said the task force would approve Rs 10 billion and after its allocation by the finance ministry, an action plan on population would be implemented.
The Supreme Court of Pakistan had taken a suo moto notice in July, 2018 on alarming population growth and it constituted task force to frame recommendations to control high population growth rate in Pakistan.
The set of recommendations endorsed by the Supreme Court was later approved by the Council of Common Interests (CII) in its meeting on November, 2018, she added.